Based on what is currently known, it's a big leap to attributing autism and other problems to gluten, and an even bigger one to prescribing gluten-free eating as a treatment. It's possible that some people benefit from a gluten-free regimen for reasons that have less to do with gluten and much more to do with the structure involved in planning and sticking to such a strict eating plan.
In the context of celiac disease, gluten refers to the protein of grains capable of provoking an autoimmune response. Other grains also contain protein, but wheat, barley, rye, and spelt contain varieties that aren't broken down by digestive enzymes:
- in wheat, the difficult-to-digest protein is gliadin;
- in rye - secalin;
- in barley - hordein.
In people with celiac disease, when they get absorbed into the walls of the small intestine, the immune system misreads the situation, views them as intruders, and unleashes a furious inflammatory response that damages tissue.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is a focus of research and nutrition education, but there is no universal agreement on the meaning of 'fruits and vegetables'. Foods that require specific instruction include rice, dried beans, potatoes, tomatoes and fruits and vegetables in mixtures and condiments.
Fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, and their sufficient daily consumption could help prevent major diseases. A recently published WHO/FAO report recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies.
Fruits and vegetables are universally promoted as healthy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend you make one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables include a diverse group of plant foods that vary greatly in content of energy and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables supply dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals to the diet and are sources of phytochemicals (phytonutrients) that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and antiinflammatory agents and through other protective mechanisms.